January 16, 2013 Subject:
Review By: Independent Review (Kent Manthie)
Where to begin? These two albums are so hard to pin down, so hard to “put in a box” – uh, that’s a good thing, by the way. The easiest way to describe it is with one word: “Jazz”. But it’s more than that. Listening to them, I heard bits and pieces of all kinds of influences – I heard some Zappa, some Ornette Coleman, some 1970-era Miles Davis as well as more esoteric artists that most people have never heard of, including Godzik Pink and French avant-garde combo, Stabat Akish, big influences on Mr. Balogh.
Volume One of Detaching Realities starts off with some very avant-garde jazz stuff that meanders all over the place. That would be the opener, “Jagged Softness, What the Fudge”. Then, on the track “Somewhat Wacky, Somewhat Crazy” it starts off sounding Zappa-esque, what with the large variety of sounds and instruments. But it soon takes off in another direction, without the insane, genius guitar creating heavy but intricate doodles. Instead, it stays with a sort-of circus-like, light atmosphere, almost reminiscent (and this goes for the very next tune, into which it seamlessly goes, “The Somewhat Unlucky 13”) of some of the very underrated but nonetheless influential and genius composers of the early 20th century who were very much into breaking the molds of tradition just as much as their counterparts in the art world were (Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, Andre Breton, et al).
While each song is very unique and a brilliant work in itself, the whole album is perfect for listening either while you’re sitting in your bed, staring at the ceiling, reading or doing work on the computer. This stuff is so outré and original that it’s hard to come up with any legitimate criticisms – I’m sure some Rolling Stone pop music writer might say that it’s not accessible enough for the ears of the masses – but isn’t that the point? Who’d want to make music that pleased anyone but themselves to begin with? I mean, if you love the music you’re making, then it’s bound to be tirelessly worked on and because of that seeming perfectionism, it’s bound to find an audience somewhere, whether it’s in the millions or the thousands. At least you have gotten your message out there.
Volume 2 of Detaching Realities picks up right where Volume 1 leaves off. “Rage/Revenge/Recluse/Recovery” starts the disc off with a sound that recalls Fred Frith/Henry Cow as well as the orchestral arrangements of Zappa or even Penderecki in the background. At times it’s quite “busy” and other times it slows to a meandering pause with xylophones, piccolos, and other little sounds until it picks up again with pulsating drums and a whole circus of sound. Cut #2,”747 Intergalactic Boogaloo” is a little more sedated at least at first, but winds up and up in a concentric sort of way, building to one of those M.C. Escher staircases that end up going to nowhere – running into a brick wall because from there it goes into “She Got Issues Back From the War Wearing an Airline Stewardess Uniform”, a slowed down but intricate number which vibe continues into the next cut, “An Out of Tune Toon”, also minus the bombast and pomp, but, nevertheless, is complex and quick.
As far as the Zappa comparisons go, I don’t mean it sounds like the “popular” Zappa – meaning the cult-classic stuff like Overnite Sensation or Weasels Ripped My Flesh, but more like his more classical-and-jazz infused orchestral compositions or maybe even Hot Rats – on where, except for the Captain Beefheart-sung “Willie the Pimp” is an instrumental work of pure genius, but is mainly just guitar, violin played by Sugar Cane Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty, bass, drums as well as a few odds and ends. The peak of Hot Rats comes along on “The Gumbo Variations”, on which Frank and Sugar Cane both go wild on wicked-crazy solos. Anyway, besides the more erudite Zappa stuff is not the only thing it sounds like – Balogh’s big influence is the French sextet Stabat Akish, led by bandleader/bassist Maxime Delporte who starting off from an avant-garde jazz form, pushes the band from a pulsing space drone sound to an uptempo swinging rhythm and all sorts of atmospheric textures and sounds in between, with sax solos that recall John Zorn’s insane squeal.
What these albums offer are two discs worth of meandering jazz-cum neo classical avant-garde music to sit back and listen to and get lost in the music, which, before you know it, is over. Also, there is really nothing else contemporary to which I can compare. Beautiful and dissonant while never being discordant, Detached Realities, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 are great albums that should be listened to in one sitting to drink in the whole of its grand theme – km.